59.18.253  <<  59.18.257 >>   59.18.260

RCW 59.18.257

Screening of prospective tenants—Notice to prospective tenant—Costs—Adverse action notice—Violation—Work group.

*** CHANGE IN 2016 *** (SEE 6413.SL) ***

(1)(a) Prior to obtaining any information about a prospective tenant, the prospective landlord shall first notify the prospective tenant in writing, or by posting, of the following:
(i) What types of information will be accessed to conduct the tenant screening;
(ii) What criteria may result in denial of the application; and
(iii) If a consumer report is used, the name and address of the consumer reporting agency and the prospective tenant's rights to obtain a free copy of the consumer report in the event of a denial or other adverse action, and to dispute the accuracy of information appearing in the consumer report.
(b)(i) The landlord may charge a prospective tenant for costs incurred in obtaining a tenant screening report only if the prospective landlord provides the information as required in (a) of this subsection.
(ii) If a prospective landlord conducts his or her own screening of tenants, the prospective landlord may charge his or her actual costs in obtaining the background information only if the prospective landlord provides the information as required in (a) of this subsection. The amount charged may not exceed the customary costs charged by a screening service in the general area. The prospective landlord's actual costs include costs incurred for long distance phone calls and for time spent calling landlords, employers, and financial institutions.
(c) If a prospective landlord takes an adverse action, the prospective landlord shall provide a written notice of the adverse action to the prospective tenant that states the reasons for the adverse action. The adverse action notice must contain the following information in a substantially similar format, including additional information as may be required under chapter 19.182 RCW:
City/State/Zip Code
This notice is to inform you that your application has been:
..... Rejected
..... Approved with conditions:
..... Residency requires an increased deposit
..... Residency requires a qualified guarantor
..... Residency requires last month's rent
..... Residency requires an increased monthly rent of $........
..... Other:
Adverse action on your application was based on the following:
..... Information contained in a consumer report (The prospective landlord must include the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting agency that furnished the consumer report that contributed to the adverse action.)
..... The consumer credit report did not contain sufficient information
..... Information received from previous rental history or reference
..... Information received in a criminal record
..... Information received in a civil record
..... Information received from an employment verification
Dated this ..... day of ........, 20....
Agent/Owner Signature"
(2) Any landlord or prospective landlord who violates this section may be liable to the prospective tenant for an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars. The prevailing party may also recover court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.
(3) A stakeholder work group comprised of landlords, tenant advocates, and representatives of consumer reporting and tenant screening companies shall convene for the purposes of addressing the issues of tenant screening including, but not limited to: A tenant's cost of obtaining a tenant screening report; the portability of tenant screening reports; criteria used to evaluate a prospective tenant's background, including which court records may or may not be considered; and the regulation of tenant screening services. Specific recommendations on these issues are due to the legislature by December 1, 2012.
(4) This section does not limit a prospective tenant's rights or the duties of a screening service as otherwise provided in chapter 19.182 RCW.
Finding2012 c 41: "The legislature finds that residential landlords frequently use tenant screening reports in evaluating and selecting tenants for their rental properties. These tenant screening reports purchased from tenant screening companies may contain misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate information, such as information relating to eviction or other court records. It is challenging for tenants to dispute errors until after they apply for housing and are turned down, at which point lodging disputes are seldom worthwhile. The costs of tenant screening reports are paid by applicants. Therefore, applicants who apply for housing with multiple housing providers pay repeated screening fees for successive reports containing essentially the same information." [ 2012 c 41 § 1.]
Findings1991 c 194: See note following RCW 59.18.253.